Portal opening to biz permits

CIO Council

Small businesses across the country soon will have access to a Web portal that will enable them to register for multiple federal, state and local licenses and permits with a single form.

The federal CIO Council unveiled the National Business Registry project Oct. 15 at the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference in Hershey, Pa.

The portal will be used by many government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Small Business Administration, and the states of Illinois, North and South Carolina, New Jersey and Washington.

The National Business Registry follows a series of crossagency portals funded by the council's E-Government Committee in August.

People wishing to start a small business have to fill out forms for many different functions at many different government levels, including registering for company and trade name, state tax, and the federal employee identification number.

Many of those forms ask for the same information, and it can take months for the registration to go through and applicants have no way to track their progress, said Barry West, agency expert for information assurance at the General Services Administration, which is leading the acquisition and development of the registry.

Once the portal is in place, businesses can fill out a single form and the information will be sent to the appropriate agencies. Businesses will be able to start the registration process, save their work and come back to complete it later, West said. The registry also will have a real-time account status feature.

The IRS will be releasing a prototype of an online registration for the federal employee identification number within the next two months, said Mayi Canales, co-chairwoman of the E-Government Committee, which provided $100,000 for the development of the business registry proof-of-concept. Once that prototype is available, the portal should follow quickly, she said.

The next phase of the portal will include a pilot project with such industries as trucking and restaurants, and adding authentication using up to 137,500 free digital certificates donated by GSA under its Access Certificates for Electronic Services contract, West said.

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